I think the Omen is great. Everyone else that has seen this movie should get it out of your collection, as you must surely have bought it by now, for Halloween and enjoy. For that couple in living in Chad who have yet to sample what The Omen has to offer, read on.
I don't think they teach much of the Old Testament in schools, now, which is just as well going off The Omen. It looks like we may be in for a choppy ride in the not too distant future, what with the Antichrist (called Damien (Harvey Stephens)) taking human form and taking over the world, and all. Now, the problem with being the Antichrist, apart from having the father from Hell, is that you have to be born from a Jackal. This would cause some health and safety issues in most hospitals, so this birth ceremony must be done “behind closed doors”. Preferably by the tender administrations of a satanic sect, disguised as hospital staff, fully informed of the impending arrival of the Overfiend's sprog. As luck would have it this is exactly what happens but, being tender in their Satanic duties, they couldn't possibly leave the son (Satan would like a boy) of the Underworld to the mercy of a Jackal; he deserves better than that. Thus the sect decides to kill the child of a pre - eminent politician in the form of US Ambassador to Britain Robert Thorn (Gregory Peck), telling him their child was a still birth. To keep Robert's wife, Katherine (Lee Remick), from going into depression the Satanists offer Robert an alternative who, unknown to poor Bob, happens to be the child of the fallen angel. “Love him as your own, and your wife need never know.” This is until the nanny throws herself out of a window and mad priests come knocking on your door, all of a fluster.
It is tempting to watch The Omen with an air of levity like that used in the preceding paragraph. That would, however, do this wonderful movie a disservice. There is, amongst the sometimes over the top, symbolism a more subtle story. The story of a father going slowly insane as he cannot come to terms with his deception to the woman he loves so dear. Of a man who begins to believe in the absurd as the only thing that makes sense. A man who begins to link happenstance and coincidence to the brooding machinations of a deranged priest called Father Brennan (Patrick Troughton). Indeed, all of the “unnatural” events that transpire could easily be attributed to being in the wrong place at the wrong time, or other more earthly matters. The aforementioned nanny could have committed suicide as a reaction of the real mother taking over responsibility of the child, should the relationship be strong enough. Dogs can often tolerate children in circumstances where an adult would not be. All sorts of things fly from rooftops during a storm, sometimes injuring those below.
All these, if not normal then credible, events are interwoven into a more abstract story where pseudo religious propaganda is made more believable as a result. What are even more impressive in this regard are the supporting actors. Patrick Troughton is in scenery chewing form and comfortably outperforms everyone that he acts opposite. David Warner as the freelance photographer Keith Jennings also delivers a role more suited to his talents than some of the dross he is normally given. The role was grown from Warner's imagination from a barebones character, giving the part a fleshed out, realistic persona sometimes lacking in support roles.
One can't watch The Omen without mentioning the fabulous score. Often misinterpreted as Carl Orff's Carmina Burana, the score is an entirely original one from Gerry Goldsmith for which he won his only Oscar. While he may prefer Total Recall as his finest score, I prefer The Omen's evocative, often thrilling, musical crescendos with full on choral accompaniment. Just as the music in Jaws adds so much more than merely filling in the quiet bits, so Goldsmiths effort adds a menace that transforms an already good movie into a great one.
Our Review Ethos